Association of Texas Professional Educators


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Eligible ATPE members may contact ATPE legal staff with employment-related legal questions or inquiries.

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ATPE's Employment Rights Defense Program

ATPE’s member protection program includes three components: professional liability insurance*, employment rights defense insurance* and a team of staff attorneys who may answer questions and assist eligible members with employment-related concerns**.

What is professional liability insurance?*
Professional liability insurance* protects an educator’s personal assets in the event of a lawsuit.

  • An eligible member’s insured benefit will pay damages assessed against him by a court of law for covered claims that arise out of his activities in his professional capacity.
  • In addition to defense costs, eligible members are covered with $8 million in professional liability insurance per member per occurrence for claims subject to $2 million per member per occurrence for violations of students’ civil rights.
  • The aggregate per insured member is $8 million.

What is employment rights defense insurance?*
Employment rights defense insurance* gives eligible members the means to defend themselves against certain employment actions.

This insured benefit pays up to $10,000 per claim in legal costs, win or lose, subject to $20,000 aggregate per year. Examples of covered claims are dismissal, salary disputes, certification, etc. Members must contact ATPE for assistance at (800) 777-2873.

In addition to the insured benefit, ATPE’s staff attorneys** may discuss options for employment-related legal concerns and assist eligible members as appropriate. Eligible members need only call (800) 777-ATPE (2873) and ask to speak to the ATPE Member Legal Services Department. The calls are confidential and at no additional cost beyond membership dues. Alternately, eligible members may contact the ATPE Member Legal Services Department using MLSIS.

What is the difference between ATPE’s insurance policy* and other organizations’ defense funds?
ATPE’s protection program includes an insurance policy, which is a legally enforceable contract. In exchange for a premium, the insurer will pay legal costs in defense of causes specified in the contract. The insured knows in advance what he can expect from the policy. An insurance contract is underwritten by an insurance company that assumes the responsibility to pay claims; that insurance company’s activities are state-regulated. Every insured may request a description of his insurance coverage. (View a detailed summary of ATPE's insurance policy.)

Other organizations may offer defense funds. Usually, a member must apply for assistance and await a decision on how much assistance he will be granted. This means that a member’s access to defense funds may not be guaranteed win or lose. Defense fund applicants do not know upfront the criteria for eligibility. Also, the funds could be exhausted, leaving applicants stranded.

Information for members regarding ATPE’s protection

What should I do if I am sued?*
You must call (800) 777-ATPE (2873) immediately and forward copies of all documents you have received to the ATPE Member Legal Services Department. Written notice of an occurrence must be made to the insurance company as soon as possible by forwarding copies of every demand, notice, summons or other process received by the member or his representative. (Also see If you are sued.)

How do I get help if I am arrested?*
You may call any criminal defense attorney for assistance. The insured benefit pays up to $15,000 per covered claim and aggregate in attorney fees for the defense of criminal actions brought against you that arise out of activities in your professional capacity. The benefit is subject to $10,000 win or lose in certain circumstances. You must be an eligible member at the time of the activity that led to the action against you. Up to $5,000 per bail bond is also available. Call ATPE at (800) 777-ATPE (2873) for claim information as soon as possible.

What if I cannot talk to an attorney while I am at school?
Simply get a message to the ATPE Member Legal Services Department during office hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday–Friday), and an attorney will call you back. Attorneys return calls daily after office hours.

Do I need to find a lawyer?*
You can simply call the ATPE Member Legal Services Department at (800) 777-ATPE (2873), and staff members will arrange for you to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. In criminal defense cases you may hire the attorney of your choice and simply call the ATPE Member Legal Services Department for claim instructions as soon as possible.

What if I need a Spanish-speaking attorney?*
ATPE can arrange for Spanish-speaking attorneys whenever needed. Just call the ATPE Member Legal Services Department at (800) 777-ATPE (2873).

What if I have a problem with another teacher or a supervisor who is also a member of ATPE? Will ATPE only help one of us?*
Professional, associate and teacher-trainee members' legal costs are paid through the insurance policy for covered claims. If a member’s legal problem involves another ATPE member and attorneys are needed, each member may hire a separate attorney from a panel approved by the insurance company subject to eligibility under the insurance policy.*

What if my problem began before I became an ATPE member? Will I be eligible for the insured benefits?*
No. The insurance policy applies to occurrences during the policy period and activities of an insured that begin during the coverage period. The effective date of insurance begins on the member’s date of membership or after a 30-day waiting period for those members who join after Sept. 30 and were eligible to join from August through September. In no event is coverage provided for acts prior to membership.

What if I cannot reach the state office until the next day?
If you are being pressed by the district to take action, particularly to submit a resignation of your employment, you can simply say you cannot answer until speaking with an ATPE attorney**.

*THE EDUCATORS PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE POLICY IS UNDERWRITTEN BY NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE CO. OF PITTSBURGH, PA. ALL COVERAGE IS SUBJECT TO THE EXPRESS TERMS OF THE MASTER INSURANCE POLICY ISSUED TO ATPE AND KEPT ON FILE AT THE ATPE STATE OFFICE. Coverage applies to an insured’s activities within his/her professional capacity and does not apply to activities that predate the coverage period. View a detailed summary. Eligibility for ATPE membership benefits is contingent upon ATPE’s receipt of the entire annual membership dues amount for your appropriate membership category. A disruption in payments to an authorized payment plan may result in discontinuation of such benefits, including cancellation of insurance coverage for the entire membership year retroactive to Aug. 1 or your membership date. ATPE reserves the right to determine the appropriate membership category. The ATPE membership year runs from Aug. 1 to July 31.

**The insured member services and staff attorneys’ assistance are offered through separate programs.

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